Thursday, January 24, 2013

Devils on the Brink & a Bonus Peak

Greetings All,
We visited the Devils@Cradle sanctuary to get a better understanding of the plight of the Tasmanian Devil. The species has been reduced by about 85% due to Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). The disease first showed up back in 1996, the first time were were in Tasmania. At that time, the Devils were common, abundant and secure. The eastern population has been hit hard by the disease which is an 100% fatal contagious cancer. One Devil can infect another and because the population is so inbred there is no immunity between individuals. Currently there is no treatment or vaccination for DFTD. The good news is that the disease has not spread to a large extent to the western population. Devils @Cradle is a conservation facility focusing on Tasmania's 3 carnivorous marsupials, the Tasmanian Devil, Eastern Quoll and Spotted-tail Quoll. Tasmanian Devils free of DFTD are bred here to create an "Insurance population". The sanctuary also does field monitoring studies and takes care of orphaned Devils. We got the opportunity to pet a Devil, take some great photos and watch the Devils being fed. We hope the sanctuary is successful in insuring the long-term survival of this truly unique animal.  Some of our favorite photos from the sanctuary follow.

 Keeper with resident Tasmanian devil
 Eastern Quoll (we did see once in the Park on a night drive)
Devils are fed shot Wallabies, not roadkill to prevent the spread of DFTD
Baby Spotted-tail Quoll

Tasmanian Devil

We were fortunate to get another great weather day and decided to hike up Hansons Peak. We started at the Dove Lake parking lot where the views of Cradle Mountain and Hansons Peak (the knob on the left) were spectacular.

The hike was straightforeward until you got near the top.  There was a steep rocky section to climb but the Park provided a chain to hang onto if needed.

We had the summit to oursevles to savor the views of Dove Lake and Lake Lilla beyond.

An unusual perspective of Cradle Mountain enhanced by blooming alpine vegetation is seen from the summit of Hansons Peak.

We returned to the car park by way of the Twisted Lakes and Lake Hanson.  Our second visit (the first being back in 1996) to Cradle Mountain was a real treat.  The weather cooperated and we were able to get in some amazing hikes.  This is truely an unique part of the World where the plants and animals have evolved in isolation for the last 10,000 years.  Some animals like the Tasmanian Devil and Eastern Quoll are only found on the island of Tasmania.  We were fortunate to get some great photos of some of Australia's unique animals.

  Bennett's Wallaby
Common Wombat
 Tasmanian Pandmelon with Joey
Baby Short-beaked Echidna
Brushtail Possum
If you're ever in Tasmania, drive slowly beween dawn and dusk.  Remember the life you save could be that of a Wallaby or a Wombat!
We hope all is well back home,
Peggy and Marc


Fred Jaquish said...

Marc and Peggy, Thanks for sharing your adventure. -14F at my house right now, enjoy Antarctica. FJJ

Nola said...

While you're enjoying summer down under, it's well below zero here at my home. This cold snap may bring in the ice again, so that I can go climbing. Was out a couple of times before it had melted out. Did Roaring Brook Falls just in time.
Enjoy your cruise to my favorite continent.

Andy Crisconi said...

Great posts Marc and Peggy! So much cool wildlife. Enjoy the cruise! Best, Andy Crisconi